Artscape Theatre Centre celebrates the life of South Africa’s poet laureate Professor Keorapetse ‘Bra Willie’ Kgositsile who has passed away.

A stalwart of Arts and Culture, Bra Willie was honoured with the South African Poet Laureate Prize in 2006 by the South African Literary Awards, a project of the wRite associates, in partnership with the national Department of Arts and Culture, Sowetan and Nutrend Publishers.

In 2008, he was honoured with the National Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to the field of literature.

In 2012 he became known as the ‘Doctor of Poetry’ thanks to the University of South Africa (Unisa) who conferred him with an Honorary Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy.

Kgositsile who served as special advisor to the three Ministers of Arts and Culture is known for  pointing  out that artists should not deem it the responsibility of the Government to deliver arts.

“It’s the artists who are the instruments. They are the ones responsible for the delivery of arts.”

In 2013 Kgositsile was honoured with his inaugural annual lecture – a conduit to convey ideas that he represents as a literary icon not only locally but internationally too.

Kgositsile was born in Mahikeng (then Mafikeng). He played as part of the Struggle against Apartheid too. Kgositsile under direction of the African National Congress (ANC) left South Africa in 1961 for Tanzania (then Tanganyika) and settled in part in the United States of America mainly in New York City, until his return in 1990.  While in exile, Kgositsile was a founding member of the ANC Departments of Education and of Arts and Culture.

Kgositsile is widely known international for many acclaimed works of which  including  “My Name is Afrika” published in 1971.

One of his major missions was to support youth development by mentoring aspiring poets.